Sunflower Leaves Curling? Here are 5 Reasons and Solutions

Sunflowers are a beautiful addition to any garden or landscape.

The first things on our mind when we think about sunflowers are their distinct flowerheads with bright yellow petals.

However, sunflowers also boast beautiful foliage, comprised of heart-shaped or triangular dark green leaves.

Besides adding to the visual appeal of the plant, the leaves can tell us a lot about the sunflower’s health which is why it’s important to monitor any potential changes to the foliage.

One of the most common issues you may notice is that your sunflower’s leaves are curling.

This can happen for a couple of reasons and it’s important to learn about them, as that will help you deal with the problem and revive your plant.

Below, I’ll provide an answer to the question “why are my sunflower leaves curling” and explain the most common causes and ways to get your sunflower back to full health.

So, let’s dive in!

Why Are My Sunflower Leaves Curling?

Sunflower Leaves.

Sunflower leaves can curl for a number of reasons that mostly have to do with improper care or the stress the plant goes through due to changes in its environment.

While these issues will rarely cause significant damage, they should still be taken seriously and dealt with on time, so they don’t become more severe.

Below, I’ll describe in more detail each of the potential causes of curled sunflower leaves.


Too much water is not good for any plant and sunflower is no exception.

If you add too much water and the soil in which sunflower rows become too wet and soggy, the leaves are likely to start changing their color to yellow or brown and curling downwards.

While you will have to water your sunflower regularly, you’ll also need to make sure that the soil is well-drained, as waterlogged soil can cause root rot which can lead to more serious problems.

To make sure you’re watering the sunflower properly, always check the soil before adding water.

Only when the soil feels dry to the touch, you can add water to the plant.

If you already have overwatered the soil, give it some time to dry out before the next watering and ensure that the soil has proper drainage.


In addition to overwatering, sunflower leaves can also get curled when they’re not receiving enough water.

You can identify this issue as in these cases, the leaves will likely cure inward, as they attempt to preserve more moisture.

Sunflowers typically need around 1 inch of water per week and failing to provide them with the right amount of moisture will cause these issues, especially during hot summer months.

If you’ve noticed that your sunflower is suffering due to underwatering, start watering it more frequently.

However, pay attention not to overdo it and make the soil too soggy as that will lead to the overwatering problems described above.

So, the key to watering is to strike the right balance and provide the plant with the optimal amount of water.

Always check the soil by sticking your finger 2 or three inches into it, and don’t add water if it still feels moist.

Temperature Changes

Sunflower leaves can also curl due to sudden temperature changes.

When there’s a sudden drop in temperature, the leaves will curl inwards, as that’s their way to conserve heat and protect from the cold.

On the other hand, the extreme rise in temperature may make the sunflower leaves cruel downwards to prevent eventual overheating.

To prevent your sunflower from suffering and getting stressed by the sudden temperature changes, make sure you plant them in areas where they will be sheltered from strong winds and not directly exposed to the sun.

Also, during extreme weather conditions, provide your plant with some protection by covering it with a plastic sheet or a rug.

Plus, make sure that, on very hot days, the sunflower is getting enough water.

Transplant Shock

In some situations, you will be transferring your sunflower to a new location.

Doing this, while often necessary, can cause a shock to the plant, especially if done early in the growing season.

The plant will need some time to adjust to the changed environment and recover from the transplant stress.

As a result of stress, the leaves may temporarily curl inwards.

To help your sunflower adapt to the new environment, make sure to provide it with plenty of water in the early days of relocation.

Other than that, there’s not much you can do but wait for a few days until the plant recovers.

Pest Infestation

One more reason why your sunflower leaves may be curling is pest infestation.

Sunflower is prone to certain pests, especially when the plant is already stressed due to other reasons.

The pest threats to your sunflower are commonly aphids, thrips, and whiteflies. All these insects feed on the sap from leaves and as result, the leaves may curl.

Another sign pointing to pest infestation is the development of sooty mold, especially on the underside of leaves.

The mold growth is promoted by the honeydew, these insects secrete. To deal with these pests you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

In case of a more severe infestation, you may have to use stronger insecticides which you can purchase in most garden stores.


As you can see, sunflower leaves can curl for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, in most cases, curled leaves are not the reason for too much concern.

Still, as they point to certain underlying issues related to improper care or the stress the plant is going through, you should learn how to identify them, so you can deal with those problems.

The sooner you notice there’s something wrong with your sunflower, the quicker you can react and prevent more severe damage to the plant.

As the symptoms of these issues, such as curled leaves, are initially only minor and hard to notice, it’s important to monitor your plant regularly.

No matter if the leaves are curled due to improper watering, transplant or temperature shock, or pest infestation, a timely reaction will help you save your plant.

Typically, all it takes is a slight adjustment in care routine or transferring the plant to a more suitable location.

Melissa Johnson
Melissa Johnson

Hello, I'm Melissa, owner and author of this website. I hope my article was able to help answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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